La Côte de Villefranche is a beautiful example of a 20th century scenic wallpaper. Designed in 1929, La Côte continues the theme of early 19th century scenic papers by showing villagers at work and at play in front of a majestic harbor. It contains fishing boats, tall ships and ancient ruins, elements much desired in the scenic wallpapers printed one hundred years earlier. This scenic was printed with a relatively small number of wood blocks and the height of the imagery is quite low to accommodate the lower ceiling heights of more modern structures.

This paper was produced by the French wallpaper company Zuber who has been in continual operation since 1797. Zuber has long been the leader in scenic wallpapers and still block prints many of these designs today using the original woodblocks. Scenic wallpapers were the epitome of block-printing. They varied in length from 20-32 panels, could be printed in hundreds of colors, and required thousands of wood blocks to print.

The Colonial Revival period in the early years of the 20th century sparked a resurgence in the use of scenic wallpapers. While most interior designers advocated the use of antique scenics, many people could not afford this luxury. Countless manufacturers saw the need for lower priced scenic papers and began producing designs in both historic and modern styles. This trend lasted into the 1960s, reaching its peak in the late 1950s.

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I have this scenic wallpaper in my historic 1937 dining room in the historic Palmer Woods area of Detroit, Michigan. This wallpaper was initially identified as a woodblock print by the French company Zuber.

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